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UV Satellite to Hunt Big Bang Fossils

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WASHINGTON, DC, June 10 -- The Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) satellite will set off later this month in search of fossil remnants of the Big Bang that scientists believe created the universe. FUSE will circle the globe every 100 minutes seeking signs of the most basic element to settle out of the primordial explosion -- hydrogen. George Sonneborn of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, explained that FUSE will look for hydrogen and an isotope, or chemical variant, known as deuterium. We think that as stars age deuterium is destroyed, Sonneborn said. Mapping deuterium throughout the Milky Way will give us a better understanding of how elements are mixed, distributed and destroyed.
FUSE will search for the distinct signature created as light passes by elements such as hydrogen. Because FUSE can observe ultraviolet light that other telescopes can't, we can test in unique ways how deuterium and other elements are circulated within galaxies. That in turn may test the limits of the Big Bang theory, said Kenneth Sembach, a FUSE science team member from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The big questions are these: Do we understand the origins of the universe, and do we understand how galaxies evolve?
Jun 1999
Basic ScienceNews & Features

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